Dime Bancorp's senior management team will begin a series of visits to major institutional shareholders today in an effort to thwart a hostile bid from North Fork Bancorp and rescue a merger deal with Mahwah, N.J.-based Hudson United Bancorp.

The road trip, which is starting just six days before a scheduled special meeting at which Dime shareholders are to vote on the Hudson deal, was necessitated by North Fork's unsolicited eleventh-hour offer of $1.88 billion for Dime.

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